Readers of this blog will know that I am not hugely into westerns. However, I was open to making this book an exception on account of who it is written by. Jack Martin is the pen name of one Gary Dobbs, my oldest cyberbuddie and all round good egg. Gary has an excellent blog (the tainted archive) which is one of my favourite sites on the interwebs. Aside from being a shameless vehicle of self promotion, it is also a terrific example of what is great about the web. A site of passion, enthusiasm with tons of great reviews and good information.
In recent times Gary has used the blog to champion The Tarnished Star, but has also been a staunch supporter and publicist for the western genre, pulp fiction (not the film!) and his fellow western writers.
The Tarnished Star has reaped the benefits of its supporting blog being, from what I understand, an instant success for its author and publisher. My main problem was not getting a hold of the book (I pre-ordered in February), but actually getting some time to read it!
The story concerns a local sheriff (Cole Masters) arrest of the son of a wealthy businessman who basically owns the town and the consequences of that action. Being a pulp novel (and proud of it) there is nothing startling new or different about this tale; it does not seek to re-invent the western genre, merely to tell a pacey traditional story. The nearest equivalent in Doctor Who terms would be the Novelisations of Terrance Dicks. A more general SF equivalent would simply be the old pulp SF stories.
What I liked:
This was the first Western I had read, and so it freed the genre from the turgid pace of many a Hollywood western of my childhood. Similarly, I did not have to suffer an overtly bombastic soundtrack or dull cinematography.
Sheriff Cole Masters, was a good lead protagonist, so were the opposition father and son double act.
What I didn't like.
I know there are a few more westerns in the pipeline for Gary, but I reckon a good noirish detective story would suit his style.